The Mind of Matt: A visit to the 'Brickyard' | Rock Candy

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Mind of Matt: A visit to the 'Brickyard'

Posted on Tue, Oct 17, 2006 at 10:25 AM

Matt Smith, who likes his music loud, certainly would be right at home at the Indy 500 where the cars are equally ear-jolting. No race this day, but Matt got to ride around the track anyway:

Today we visit one of the most famous racetracks in the world. The tour consists of a lap around the track in a bus, a stop at the start/finish line, and a stop in turn 2. You are allowed to go inside the media room, tour the famous “Pagoda” and check out a luxury suite. The tour guides are all retired people who seem to have never missed a race. Our guide hadn’t missed an Indianapolis 500 race in more than 50 years. The tour takes 90 minutes. The entire experience is just about an exact copy of the Daytona 500 racetrack tour. These two racetracks must use the same marketing and consulting firm.

There is the required gift shop, which is divided into to areas. The track boasts additional kiosk sites for your track memorabilia needs. I can see the need however, since “Race Day” can bring in more than 300,000 people. Parking, concessions, and restrooms abound. Now, our guide claimed that on race day ALL traffic has cleared and the place is empty and being cleaned within two hours of the race ending. I was tempted to yell, “Bullshit” since I have attended a race and know better. But, hey…. The old boy was like 100 years old, and I respect my elders … so I kept quite.

The museum is filled with winning cars from the past, photos, trophies, helmets, ANYTHING that the drivers may have touched or used. They run a 30-minute film showing the history of the race and a little info on Speedway, which is the town of 12,000 where the track is located. A little trivia there, because everyone thinks the Indianapolis 500 is in INDY. No! The incorporated city of Speedway is your host!

The Indy 500 is the most famous race held at this track. The winner has traditionally had a glass of milk after winning the race. 1994 saw a new tradition emerge with the first NASCAR race here. The Brickyard 400 so named because the track surface was once all brick. NASCAR winners kiss the bricks at the finish line. 2000 was the first United States Grand Prix at this facility, and new construction occurred in order to accommodate Formula One cars. The tour does take you thru the garage area, and explains the difference in the track and use of the facilities during the 3 distinct events.

 For most of its history, this was The Race and The Track in America. Now, INDY 500 has become the home of two more important, and popular aspects of the sport of racing.

"Vrrrrroom" -- Matt Smith

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